Tag Archives: wedding

Summer Event Temptations

Who doesn’t love a summer party?  The gardens are in bloom, the temperatures balmy, everything is green & your clothes are light weight.  I certainly don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but if you’re thinking this is the perfect time to have your event, let me alert you to a few of the pitfalls that can sabotage a summer party:  First, is the heat.  There are never any guarantees on the weather, but if it’s over ninety degrees & your facility has no air conditioning, you’re going to have uncomfortable & unhappy guests.  I know this seems obvious, but you have NO idea how many times a dewey-eyed bride will say “But, I’ve always dreamed of having my wedding in a barn!”   Those dreams can lead to heat stroke & ruined suits.  It’s not very romantic but there it is.  On a related note, if you’re outside in a garden, forest preserve, lake or country club, you have to consider the bugs.  They like a party as much as the next person.  But the next person may be your Aunt Edna & she’s allergic to bee stings!   A third booby trap of the beautiful setting, is it can separate your guests.  Put a bar outside & half the people will go there, never to come in again.  If you want cohesive, enthusiastic partying & dancing, you need the whole crowd joining in, so you want to keep them together. If you plan ahead, considering some of these challenges which may relate to your choice of venue, then you can avoid these pitfalls & have the perfect party.  & without a doubt, everyone loves a summer party.

Have you ever been to a GREAT party?

One thing that really gets me, is losing a client to a D.J..  Don’t get me wrong.  Our company created D.J.’s in Chicago.  There was no such animal.  When we went to advertise, there was no category for us.  The whole reason we started down that road, was to accommodate the client that didn’t have the budget for Live Music.  How times have changed.  Obviously, the economical reason to use a D.J. instead of a great band still exists.  However, it’s the client (usually in their 20’s) who tells me that they have decided to go with a D.J., not because of budget, but because their friends tell them “Don’t get a Band!  A D.J. is SO MUCH better!”, that makes me sigh with sincere disappointment.

It wasn’t until recently, that it dawned on me:  We have never performed at a bad party.  Our party’s are FABULOUS.   Have these friends, whose opinion’s are so important to my client’s, ever been to a GREAT party?  In fact, if you are in your 20’s, how many parties have you been to?  Have you been to thousands?  Because, I have.  I am willing to bet that my client’s friends have been to two or three weddings, at the most.  & of those two or three, how many had Live Music?  Maybe one.  Maybe.  This is not a wise & experienced advisor.

I love what I do.  I am so proud of the job we do, from the first contact with prospective clients, to the cries of “Encore” & “One more!!” at the end of another GREAT party.  Our office staff is expert, pleasant & helpful, our musicians are the best, our Vocalists world class.  We give you our all.  & we promise you a GREAT party.

What’s been happening in the New Year of 2015!

January 2015 004 Beside lot’s of snow in January, which we had to expect, we had one very nice surprise!  For those of you planning an event in the Southwest Suburbs, you may want to take a look at The Empress in Addison.  We were involved in planning a fourth wedding for a family that liked to do things Big.  When they informed us they had chosen The Empress, we were surprised & a little worried.  We hadn’t been there in many, many years.  There is usually a reason for that!  How could they accommodate the “Big Plans” of this family we knew so well & how could they handle the needs of our “big” production?  The answer was:  extremely well.  The staff was great to work with from beginning to end, with an accurate grasp of what the client envisioned.  What they produced for them was elegant & top drawer.  & they didn’t have so many of the inconveniences of having to go Downtown to get the kind of wedding they wanted.  They were also able to give us the stage size, power & other production items important to us.  Overall, it was a delightful experience for everyone & at the end of the night, we were all happy! Planning a function in Southwest Chicagoland?  Consider The Empress.

Story Book Wedding at the Field Museum!

Weddings are my very favorite event at which to perform.  Hands down.  I know a lot of my colleagues don’t agree with me.  I ran into one of them recently, when we happened to be doing a Corporate event at a downtown hotel.  He asked what we were doing there & I told him.  I then asked what he was doing and he replied quote:  “Oh, just a f*&king wedding”.   This not only shocked me, but made me a little angry.  Every wedding is a once in a lifetime event & the most important day or night in at least two people’s lives.  It’s a privilege to be there & make it a success.

That being said, our wedding a short time ago at the Field Museum, was a door buster, even in our vast experience.  It was a seamlessly coordinated effort from all angles, flawlessly pull it off & we did.  One initial challenge:  There was a Dave Matthews Band concert on Northernly Island the same night & if you’re familiar with Chicago, you will know that the Museum Campus shares all parking space with that facility!  Once we got advance notice, we acted quickly to secure parking or travel arrangements for guests & staff.  Does this sound easy?  It took a tremendous amount of planning & cooperation.  & traffic that night was nightmarish.  We have done events where up to 40% of guests invited couldn’t make it to the party on time, many turning around & going home in frustration.  It’s important when doing these downtown locations, to have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on.

Stanley Hall in the Field Museum is an awesome place.  Add gorgeous lighting, linens & flowers & it’s magical.  We always take great care with our sound production, when working this hall & the challenges are considerable.  Our goal is to have the best sound at the most tasteful volume & this was achieved.  The bride’s family were from Italy & when she found out that myself & Nancy, one of our Lead Vocalists are trained in Opera, she had us perform several popular Italian arias.  She & I have performed at the Lyric Opera House & Symphony Center & I think it sounded every bit as good in Stanley Hall!

The groom was Syrian & they asked us to accommodate those guests as well, which we were happy to do.  The blending of the two cultures was beautiful.  I feel confident that every guest went home thinking it was the most incredible wedding they’d ever attended.  It certainly was memorable for us. 

Our thanks go out to the two families, for making us a part of such a spectacular night. 

A Jewel in Joliet

For many years now, we have regularly performed at all the most prestigious locations in the Chicagoland area: the Drake Hotel, Chicago Hilton & Towers, Peninsula, Ritz-Carleton, the Field Museum, Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium, Planetarium…the list goes on.  Each of these places has a particular elegance, charm or unique quality.  When you think about a beautiful location, you probably think about the City.

Of course, we perform a great deal in the suburbs as well.  Not only with our Social/Private Party work, but with our Corporate Clients.  However, it has been awhile since ventured out to Joliet.  And I’m so glad we did.

Last weekend, we performed for a wedding at the Patrick Haley Mansion (patrickhaleymansion.com), built in the late 1800’s by Patrick Haley, then the Mayor, commissioning the nationally known architect & Egyptologist Frank Shaver Allen.  The old building has been fabulously restored, utilizing much of the original hardwood artistry & stained glass, all done with exquisite taste.  They added a fantastic party room to the back of the facility, with a conservatoire feel, floor to ceiling windows looking out at the beautiful garden & gazebo & a glass ceiling over the dance floor that reminds you a little of heaven.

We provided Ceremony music out in the garden for the Wedding Service, then guests moved in to the mansion for cocktails, moving easily throughout the elegant yet warmly inviting rooms.  The staff could not have been friendlier or more accommodating, not only for the Client & the guests, but also for those of us working there.  It is a reminder that we ALL have one thing to do:  make sure our Client has the most enjoyable event & we should all work together to make sure that happens.  In this case, not only was it accomplished with finesse, we all had a great time making it so. 

Additionally, there was ample parking immediately adjacent to the facility (also beautifully landscaped) & with the addition to I355 to the south, it is quite convenient to get to from all directions.

If you are thinking about a suburban event & you want something different, private, beautiful, welcoming & well run, think about the Patrick Haley Mansion.


Recipe for a Successful Party: Blending the right ingredients to create a great time!

The other night, we did a Wedding Reception where the bride was in her late 20’s, her parents in their late 50’s, the groom in his late 40’s & his parents in their 80’s.  That is a musical span of 60 years!  When you have a range like this, you will most likely have a block of guests invited from each age group.  Like a skilled Chef, the Bandleader has to put the just the right musical ingredients in at just the right time, to make sure everyone has fun & feels included.  Of course, each party is unique, however, just like the best recipes, you begin with the basics, in other words, things that always work.  Then as you get cooking, you start to add in just the right spices to make everything come together for that particular party & voila!  The audience is demanding more.   

Like any skilled Baker constantly watching the oven, I never take my eyes off the dance floor, constantly assessing how the crowd is reacting, what they’re enjoying, what is working.  Knowing that older guests are more likely to leave early, I try to make sure they hear music they enjoy in the beginning of the evening.  I take advantage of re-make songs, classics that have been redone by contemporary artists.  However, my goal & something that I take tremendous pride in, is that when we’re playing the last dance song of the night, I look out at 90% of the guests that I started with, when I played the first dance song.  As a Master Chef looks on at empty plates & loosened belts, I gaze out at a full dance floor & guests of all ages calling out for one more tune & smile.  We’re all satisfied.

A well kept secret downtown Chicago spot for your event!

We had such a pleasant surprise last weekend, when we performed at the Holiday Inn Merchandise Mart martplaza.com   It had been a long time since we were there–so long that my memory was a bit fuzzy, but for some reason, I had been previously underwhelmed by it.  However, last Saturday night, I was pleasantly impressed with this little hidden gem.  First of all, they had extremely prompt & friendly Valet Service, always a HUGE plus for any of your guests visiting from the suburbs.  All the Hotel services are on the 15th floor, a quick elevator ride.  The entire south wall of the 15th floor is floor to ceiling windows, including one wall of the Ballroom & the view is one of the best in the city!  We were treated to a city sunset that was remarkable.  The Ballroom was medium sized with a private foyer & was intimate without being claustrophobic, thanks to that window to the city.   Because of it’s location, this is not the kind of Hotel that attracts the walk-in public, so you have all the convenience of a Hotel, but you have very much of a Private feeling here. 

The staff was efficient & extremely accommodating.  When we can easily work with the staff at any facility, it makes for a mutually successful venture for everyone, including our Clients!  On the same level as the Ballroom, they have a fantastic bar, the perfect place for guests to gather at the end of the night, before being able to go up to their hotel rooms.  Additionally, on the same level, they have a restaurant called Italiasia, with cuisine to match it’s name.  The food was great & another plus for your guests staying the night.  If you want a downtown location & you would like a beautiful view, a feeling of privacy & the convenience of a Hotel, this may be the place for you!

How important is the Right Music for your Wedding Reception? Maybe THE most important element!

I talk to Brides & Grooms everyday.  For the majority of them, their Wedding Reception is the first major social event they’ve ever planned.  In fact, if they’re in their 20’s (which most of them are) they may have only attended two or three Wedding Receptions in their lives.  Now, they’re planning a “once in a lifetime” event.  It’s a daunting prospect for most, especially as you don’t get a second chance!  So many variables combine to make a great party.  You need to choose a beautiful dress, the perfect venue, gorgeous flowers & just the right menu.  Put them all together & you’re set for a great party!  But what happens if all these things are in place & your guests leave early in the evening?!?  This can happen: with the wrong music. 

When you dream of your perfect night, do you see all your guests, standing on the dance floor at the end of the evening, yelling for more?  No one is looking at the flowers, thinking about the food or admiring the chair covers: they want to party.  What makes that happen?  Not just the music, but the RIGHT music.  When you hire professional musicians to perform at your party, their musical talents are just one part of what’s needed to make your party happen.  Choosing the songs that appeal to the broadest range of ages at your party, pacing the evening, creating an irresistible dance atmosphere is a art form.  This takes a tremendous amount of experience & skill.  Do you want to put your party in the hands of someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing?  You don’t get a second chance.     

The Polar Vortex got you? How about the perfect Party Vortex!

What makes a great party?  You may think the food, the facility, the decorations.  These are great ingredients, but from decades of experience, I can tell you what is the essential element in making a party great:  unity.  That means, as many guests as possible are engaged & joining in the fun.  The great unifier: music!  But music can also act to alienate some guests, so it’s important that you chose the right professionals who will  make most of your guests feel included & engaged in the whole evening.  When done right, you get a perfect Party Vortex! 

Live music is the building block for a great party.  When you have the right entertainment to interact with your guests, you have the catalyst that starts the fun.  Our Company Credo from the very beginning has been: “The Party Starts on Stage” & is the spark to inspire even the most inhibited closet party animal. 

Most people only have a few shots at creating an event which no one forgets.  It may be a wedding, an anniversary, a birthday party or a corporate/business event.  The one thing that all these special one of a kind events have in common:  you want them to be great.  My advice for obtaining this goal is to consult a Professional.  If you were having surgery, would you want it done by someone who had only done it once or twice?  Or would you want a highly skilled doctor who had performed it thousands of times?  Find the right professionals & put yourselves in their hands.   You’ll get the party of your dreams!

Choosing the Right facility for your event

When planning a Special Event in a large Metropolitan place like Chicago, you are awash in choices of location.  There are a few things common sense criteria to consider: 

First: Do you have a lot of out of town guests?  If you do, then a hotel may be at the top of your list of considerations.  Most Hotels offer a Ballroom, discount to your guests, a Honeymoon Suite (if it’s a wedding your planning) & maybe even discounted parking for your guests.  You have the option of all your activities, i.e. meetings, Ceremony/Reception, hospitality etc.  in one place.  You also tempt people from the suburbs that don’t want to attend your event, then drive home.  They can stay for the night & not worry.  Hotels have the advantage of in-house food to choose from, to fit whatever your budget.  Lots of pluses.

Second:  Are a lot of your guests from the surrounding area?  If you are thinking of a “downtown” choice for your location, it may be difficult for the embedded suburbanites to navigate in the city.  It will be added expenses for them, the least of which is parking.   This can be very intimidating for many people.

Thirdly: Do you want the place to yourself?  If you are planning a once in a lifetime event, such as a wedding or anniversary, when you go to a hotel or larger facility, it is open to the public & you will be sharing that space with others.  If you are having a small group, you may want to explore unique spaces in your area that cater to Special Events, such as Museums, Historic Homes or Botanic Gardens, for instance.  You have certain restrictions when choosing places like this, but they do make for beautiful & very special events. 

Make sure you consult professional Event Specialists for their experiences & recommendations for your Very Special Event!